Detriments of living in a college bubble

By Jake Russian

(Jessica Picard/ Daily Collegian)

For many students, college exists as a place to escape reality; an environment in which avoiding pressures associated with the outside world can be avoided. There’s fresh, hot food available at multiple dining halls, without any personal preparation necessary. The bathrooms are perfectly cleaned, without any manual labor from the students who use them. There are fewer authority figures, which gives freer rein to many young adults who have just recently left home in the past couple of years. As students acclimate to this alternate college living environment, it often seems that particular responsibilities can be easily thrown to the wind. But sometimes, becoming enveloped in academic expectation and engrossing schedules can cloud the inquisitive nature of young people—a trend that I personally see as remarkably detrimental to the growth and development of this age group.

Not only does living on a college campus serve as an escape from physical responsibilities like cooking and cleaning, but it also acts as an ideological vacation for plenty of students. Attending a school like the University of Massachusetts, located in rural Massachusetts, allows young adults to avoid the outside world if they so choose. As a result, students are almost living in a bubble. Here, we have the ability to ignore the overwhelming issues and intricacies of reality by keeping a mental distance from things that don’t directly affect us. It can be much easier to solely focus on issues that are college-specific, and simply ignore things that are not directly changing student lives. Personally, throughout my first few months of college, I felt as though I was disconnected from a lot of the events taking place in our world, both politically and socially. It seemed as though, because I was so busy with classes and extracurricular activities, I had developed a detachment from the real world. News stories would pass right over my head, and if I could give any time to catching up, I was often overwhelmed by how much was happening. Many of my friends noted that they have felt similarly—as if having such a dense workload excused them from giving attention to things that would otherwise matter greatly. Being constantly surrounded by people of a similar age and schedule allows for an environment to form where outside forces have little influence on day-to-day lives.

This issue became particularly clear to me earlier this semester as the world witnessed horrific acts of violence, devastation from natural disasters and intense political turmoil across the globe. More often than not, many of my peers simply had no knowledge of what was happening outside of UMass, and they continuously cited being consumed with schoolwork and the social world of college as a reason for being uninformed. Ignoring the more disappointing status of current events can typically be easier than facing reality head on—a tactic that may leave college students incapable of understanding the long-term effects of daily changes in our country and around the world.

In some ways, college exposes students to a wide range of academic and extracurricular offerings, while simultaneously cutting them off from other sources of global information. Remaining informed requires a student to actively seek out knowledge on their own—an act that can be easily overlooked when taking the hectic lives of college students into account.

Blissful ignorance of the complex workings of reality leaves young adults ill-prepared for the world that awaits them beyond graduation. Understanding the issues at hand and applying them to our education can make for a world where the college experience no longer serves as an idyllic four years away from true society. Ultimately, that sheltered experience is flawed, and will do a disservice to the generations to come as they work to progress socially and politically. Maintaining a conscious effort to stay connected to the world beyond the college bubble is imperative. After all, these are the issues that college students will inherit in the coming years.

Jake Russian is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected]